Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More Thoughts on Adoptees Who Search and Those Who Don't

Some grown adoptees search. Some don't. Those are the facts. Neither course of action is the correct or preferable one.

When adoptees don't search, some adoptive parents and others offer this explanation:

They didn't search because they didn't need to. All of their needs were perfectly met within the context of the adoptive family.

I would like to put forth another possible explanation for why some adoptees choose not to search:

Because reaching out to someone who may not want, and may never have wanted, to have anything to do with you is freakin' terrifying!

That's just my opinion. You will have to form your own. 


  1. My ex husband has never searched because he was told his birth mother was 16 years old and had bad teeth. Yes. That was the personal information he was given (by adoptive parents). She was definitely not presented as a woman who loved him so much she wanted a different life for him. Instead she was presented as a teenager with bad hygiene.

    He has also told me that he would never want to find out he was the by-product of a rape or some other horrible circumstance. So rather than face it, he just prefers to ignore that part of his life.

    It makes our son sad. Especially now since my son sees how I struggle as a birthmother who would like a relationship with my daughter. He wonders how his birth grandmother might feel.

    Adoption affects so many family members. Even ones that are born years after the adoption.

  2. I had a friend whose adopted father also refused to search. It was frustrating to her. She wanted to respect his decision but also would have really loved to know more about her own history. I don't think he thought much about how his stance might affect her; he was absolutely firm. Anyway, I agree with you that adoption affects many family members!

  3. Rebecca,
    This is so true. I hesitate to reach out to my half-sister because she doesn't know I exist, my natural mother prefers it that way, and I really don't want to face any more rejection, at least at the moment. Of course the possibility exists that she would be glad to know I exist, but who knows? The reason I don't contact her now is most definitely not because all my needs were perfectly met, although I loved my adoptive parents and know they did the best they could. The sealed system puts adoptees into a very unfair position, and it needs to end.

  4. My dad doesn't want to search for his birth family at all because for one, it's nearly impossible in a state where adoptees don't have automatic access to their OBCs. Two, the "non-identifying information" that he was given said his parents were married and getting a divorce, and neither one of them wanted custody of the children. Of course this may have nothing to do with the actual course of events. His parents could've had no choice in the matter because single parenting wasn't common or accepted in those days like it is now. But as it stands, he feels abandoned by his birth parents and figures they don't want to meet him. I want him to search out his birth siblings more than his birth parents (frankly they may be dead anyway - who knows). But yes. It is so frickin' scary!

  5. I know that when I thought about searching, I was terrified that the family who gave me up wouldn't want anything to do with me.

    After all, who gives up someone they claim to love?

  6. As an amom, I always assumed those who didn't search, didn't because of the aparents...either they were worried they would upset the aparents or the aparents made it clear that searching wasn't acceptable. Thanks for sharing another reason I hadn't considered. It is very hard for me to understand not searching. I can't imagine living with all those questions. I feel very lucky that we were able to find the families of both of my children, although I searched before one of them was old enough to really voice an opinion. And today, we're sitting here waiting for her mom to arrive for a 3 day visit in Guatemala. :-)

  7. I definitely agree with you that fear of incurring the adoptive parents' disapproval can be another deterrent. Love your approach and the result! Enjoy your visit! :-)

  8. A lot of people, it turns out, but it can be hard for a child's mind to make sense of that ... and to be honest, this whole adoption-reunion attempt has kind of put me into child-mind again. It just brings up a lot of vulnerability. And in my case, I'm currently trying to connect with someone who has been unresponsive to a previous attempt. Reaching out to my b-mom was much easier because she had registered with a reunion registry letting me know she was open to being found.

    Thanks for your comment.

  9. I agree. Everything you have written here makes total sense to me!

  10. Indeed!

    Hope you get to meet a new aunt or uncle one of these days!


  11. I just asked my aunt last week if she were ever interested in searching for her biological parents, and she answered that she had NO idea where to start. She told me that she had never really thought about it because she didn't think it was even an option. Hers is an interesting story (she's foreign and was adopted in her native country but not through an agency or anything). Assumptions are just that, assumptions. Until we know why, we should put words into others' mouths.

    Anyway, I know it doesn't seem like I'm saying much, but I really appreciate your posts. My aunt and I have conversations that I don't think she has with many others because no one knows what to say. They assume she should just "get over it." Thanks to adoptees who blog, I'm learning so much more about perspective. So, thanks. :)

  12. That should say "shouldn't put words into others' mouths." Oops.

  13. I knew what you meant -- and you're right! :-)
    Thanks for your comment!

  14. I think there is also a question of grace in these choices. Grace has been defined as a state of giving without expecting something in return. There are understandable reasons why someone might not wish to research their background (such as the man who would never want to find out he was the by-product of a rape or some other horrible circumstance). However, one can choose to overrride such fears as a gift to one's offspring.


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